Mealy bugs are those soft bodied white cotton-like pests that suck the juicy sap out of plants. These white colored devils are quite hard to get rid of once they’ve found a good food source they settle down reproduce rapidly and destroy a healthy plant in no time at all. In this post, we take a look at the different solutions available to get rid of mealy bugs naturally.
Worse, they quickly spread from one plant to the next and are a gardener’s worst nightmare. You’ll usually find these creatures in the undersides of leaves as a thick cottony mass or between the leaves and the stem and getting rid of them is no easy task. If you find that your plants are infected by mealy bugs, here’s what you can do to get rid of mealy bugs naturally.
How to Get Rid of Mealy Bugs Naturally
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Isolate the Infected Plant
One of the first things you need to do when you find mealy bugs in your plants is to move the infected plant far away from the rest of the plants. Or, to your dismay you will soon find that they have infected other plants as well making it all the more difficult to get rid of.
Avoid Over Watering and Over Fertilizing
One of the common reasons for a mealy bug infestation is over watering or over fertilizing the plants. Mealy Bugs particularly like plants growing in a nitrogen rich soil so fertilize only when necessary.
Ladybugs love a good lunch of mealy bugs and you’d do well to attract and encourage lady bugs to visit your garden. Click here to discover different ways in which you can attract lady bugs to your garden.
Neem Spray Them
You can add some neem oil to water and spray the leaves and stems infested with the pests. This will even discourage future infestations.
Process a garlic clove, 1 small onion, and a teaspoon of mild chilly powder in a food processor and add it to a litre of water. Let it sit for about an hour. Then strain the mixture and spray it on the infected plants.
Apply a Soap Spray
Add 1 tablespoons of baby shampoo to about 2 litres of water and spray them on the infested areas. You can also use a soap-oil mix to spray on infected areas. A mixture of 1 tablespoon of dish wash like VIM and a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a litre of water is also known to have good results although both options are not completely organic.
Apply a Tobacco Rinse
I found that soaking tobacco leaves overnight and spraying the solution did the trick.
Manually Remove Them
If you find a few mealy bugs in your plants, you can manually remove them. You can catch the bugs by attaching a sticky tape to your hands and touching the bugs.
Nip Off Infected Areas
If you find that a particular branch is heavily infested with mealy bugs, you can nip off the branch or stem to avoid further spread of the pest. Destroy the stem and its inhabitants and don’t throw the stem or leaves in the compost pit.
Replace the Top Soil
Mealybugs can also live in the soil so if a plant is plagued by recurring infestations of the bug, it is recommended that you remove the top layer of sand from the pot and replace it with fresh potting soil.
When my plants are infected with mealy bugs, I simply hit them with a spray of water until they drown in it and fall off. Another option is to take an old toothbrush, dip it in water and brush the buggers off. I keep checking every day to make sure they don’t revive and rebuild their nests again. If they do, rinse and repeat.
Thoroughly Check the Pot
Check around the pot, on the inside and outside as well as in the bottom of the pot. These wily buggers can sometimes hide before making a re-appearance.
Its hard to get rid of mealy bugs in one go. They are hard to spot no matter how closely you look so you may end up with a recurring problem, but its not all bad. If you are determined and watchful you are sure to keep them in check or get rid of them eventually.
Do you make use of any specific method to get rid of mealy bugs naturally? We’d love to know how you tackle these little white devils.